Bribery case may help BJP

| 30 April 2001 22:55 IST

The case of a Congressman attempting to bribe a ruling BJP legislator to form an alternate government may not stand legally for want of evidence, but would definitely help chief minister Manohar Parrikar politically.

The CID (crime branch) has already arrested Khemlo Sawant, the Congress north district secretary, for attempting to bribe BJP MLA Vinay Tendulkar. While the former has been remanded to judicial custody, his accomplice Dipak Parab is still absconding.

"No one will dare to approach any BJP MLA now", says Parrikar, while stating that the step had been taken to file a complaint after getting fed up with series of offers made by the Congress leaders through middlemen.

He claims that at least six more legislators had made a similar complaint to him earlier, but none of them accepted their offers. The opposition Congress however needs minimum seven legislators to engineer defections and form alternate government.

Consisting of 20 members, the BJP is ruling in the 40-member House with the support of two legislators of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party while few others are supporting from outside. The Congress, after readmitting some of the defectors, has however swollen to only 14, still falling short of seven.

While Tendulkar claims that Khemlo approached him at the instance of Goa PCC president Nirmala Sawant, Parrikar alleges that former Congress minister Somnath Zuwarkar was prepared to spend over Rs two crore to topple his government while former chief minister Francisco Sardinha is also helping the move.

PCC chief Sawant does not deny the ongoing moves to come to power by engineering defections, but flatly denies the charge of attempting to bribe anybody. "It is the sangh parivar gimmick to divert peoples' attention from the tehelka controversy", she claims.

The Congress even took out a morcha to the police station in protest of Khemlo's arrest. But Parrikar has gone on offensive, alleging that anti-social elements, loan sharks and smugglers have joined hands to topple his government.

"My government is not at all in trouble, but I do not want to take any risk", he says while avoiding a straight reply to whether he is worried about habitual defectors in his party. The BJP came to power in October last year after admitting 10 defectors from the Congress into the saffron camp.

There is no doubt however that he has created too many enemies in the opposition camp. While former power minister Mauvin Godinho is presently attending police station for interrogation in a multi-crore power rebate scam, former chief minister Luizinho Faleiro's wife is also facing a police case of tampering with land documents to expand his hotel.

Dayanand Narvekar, on the other hand, is presently running from district court to supreme court to avoid arrest in the case of bogus ticket racket at the final cricket ODI between India and Australia played in Goa on 6 April.

"But a sizeable group within the Congress is against these moves", claims Parrikar, though he does not wish to comment on whether the BJP would engineer further defections to save his seat of power.

The routine game of toppling has begun once again, but now with a new flavour of filing police cases against each other in order to counter political moves to snatch or retain the power.

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